Friday, August 19, 2005

Reelin' in the Years...at Bumbershoot

This year, Bumbershoot is celebrating its 35th anniversary and they've put together one heck of a line-up, including such legendary performers as Iggy Pop & the Stooges, the New York Dolls and Elvis Costello. In addition, the 1 Reel Film Festival is celebrating its 10th. In recognition of this achievement, curator Warren Etheridge, who is celebrating his seventh, will be screening greatest hits throughout the weekend. All will be shown at the Intiman Theater. On Thursday, August 18th, he presented some of the highlights at Ballard's Tractor Tavern.

Etheridge and crew watched 1,500 shorts to put together this year's program of 140 films. Thirty are from the Northwest, 15 are from high school students. He noted that there was a preponderance of "brooding" and "introspective" films with a "serious undertone." He also mentioned that shorts these days are "becoming more of a political playground for filmmakers" and that there's "no financial gain in shorts," so most are made "purely for the love of the art." That said, over 70 of the filmmakers who've been involved with the 1 Reel Film Festival have gone on to make feature films. This includes Ivan Reitman's son, Jason, who agreed to take part in this year's 1 Reel Challenge, despite the fact that he's scrambling to complete his Christopher Buckley adaptation, Thank You For Smoking, in time for the Toronto International Film Festival.

Etheridge screened the following films: Son of Satan (a profane Charles Bukowski-based animation), Dimmer (a B&W doc about blind teenagers), 9 (a surrealistic animation), Milton is a Shitbag (a comic animation), The Double (with Eric Roberts), and The Big Empty (with Selma Blair and the always-watchable Elias Koteas). I liked all of them, but my favorites were Milton and The Big Empty. Due to technical problems, we only got to watch the first half of Milton, which is five minutes long. That said, what we saw was pretty hilarious (simply put, Milton the cat really is a shitbag). Etheridge described the star-studded Empty, which was produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, as a "vaginal Being John Malkovich." That about sums it up. I was also reminded of the B&W short in the middle of Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her-"magine if that sequence was set in the present and filmed in color. Okay, Empty is a lot more discreet, but you get the idea.

As usual, the schedule is divided into themed blocks. Each is one hour long and there's a half hour break every three hours. As in years past, Etheridge will be giving out the "Iron Ass" award, so if you've got the stamina, this prestigious prize could be yours! Plus, Labor Day weekend in Seattle is usually pretty hot, so spending a little time in a cool, dark space is sure to do you good.

Friday, 9/2

Hollywood High (12-1pm), Hollywood High: Honor Roll (1-2pm), Problem Child (2-3pm), Help Wanted (3:30-4:30pm), Distance Learning (4:30-5:30pm), Memento (5:30-6:30pm), David Russo's World Premiere (7-8pm) and The Best of the Best of the Fest (8-10pm).

Saturday, 9/3

Saturday Morning Cartoons* (12-1pm), Crumbsnatchers (1-2pm), Wholly Quests (2-3pm), Role Models (3:30-4:30pm), Comedy Gold! (4:30-5:30pm), End of the Affair (5:30-6:30pm), Mating Rituals (7-8pm), Lady-Like** (8-9pm) and The Best Sex Ever!** (9-10pm).

*These are family friendly.
** These are not.


Sunday, 9/4

To the Extreme! (12-1pm), Gimme Shelter! (1-2pm), War Torn (2-3pm), Tainted Love (3:30-4:30pm), Undertow (4:30-5:30pm), Freak Your Melon! (5:30-6:30pm), Mother's Daze (7-8pm) and Curator's Classics (8-10pm).

Monday, 9/5

Homecoming (12-1pm), Pregnant Pause (1-2pm), Dearly Departed (2:30-3:30pm), The 1 Reel Challenge: Are You F**king Kidding Me!?! (3:30-5pm) and The Best of the Fest w/The Short Awards Ceremony (5:30-8pm).

For more information, see www.bumbershoot.org. For more on Etheridge, check out his site at www.thewarrenreport.com.

Reelin' in the Years...at Bumbershoot

This year, Bumbershoot is celebrating its 35th anniversary and they've put together one heck of a line-up, including such legendary performers as Iggy Pop & the Stooges, the New York Dolls and Elvis Costello. In addition, the 1 Reel Film Festival is celebrating its 10th. In recognition of this achievement, curator Warren Etheridge, who is celebrating his seventh, will be screening greatest hits throughout the weekend. All will be shown at the Intiman Theater. On Thursday, August 18th, he presented some of the highlights at Ballard's Tractor Tavern.

Etheridge and crew watched 1,500 shorts to put together this year's program of 140 films. Thirty are from the Northwest, 15 are from high school students. He noted that there was a preponderance of "brooding" and "introspective" films with a "serious undertone." He also mentioned that shorts these days are "becoming more of a political playground for filmmakers" and that there's "no financial gain in shorts," so most are made "purely for the love of the art." That said, over 70 of the filmmakers who've been involved with the 1 Reel Film Festival have gone on to make feature films. This includes Ivan Reitman's son, Jason, who agreed to take part in this year's 1 Reel Challenge, despite the fact that he's scrambling to complete his Christopher Buckley adaptation, Thank You For Smoking, in time for the Toronto International Film Festival.

Etheridge screened the following films: Son of Satan (a profane Charles Bukowski-based animation), Dimmer (a B&W doc about blind teenagers), 9 (a surrealistic animation), Milton is a Shitbag (a comic animation), The Double (with Eric Roberts), and The Big Empty (with Selma Blair and the always-watchable Elias Koteas). I liked all of them, but my favorites were Milton and The Big Empty. Due to technical problems, we only got to watch the first half of Milton, which is five minutes long. That said, what we saw was pretty hilarious (simply put, Milton the cat really is a shitbag). Etheridge described the star-studded Empty, which was produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, as a "vaginal Being John Malkovich." That about sums it up. I was also reminded of the B&W short in the middle of Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her--imagine if that sequence was set in the present and filmed in color. Okay, Empty is a lot more discreet, but you get the idea.

As usual, the schedule is divided into themed blocks. Each is one hour long and there's a half hour break every three hours. As in years past, Etheridge will be giving out the "Iron Ass" award, so if you've got the stamina, this prestigious prize could be yours! Plus, Labor Day weekend in Seattle is usually pretty hot, so spending a little time in a cool, dark space is sure to do you good.

Friday, 9/2

Hollywood High (12-1pm), Hollywood High: Honor Roll (1-2pm), Problem Child (2-3pm), Help Wanted (3:30-4:30pm), Distance Learning (4:30-5:30pm), Memento (5:30-6:30pm), David Russo's World Premiere (7-8pm) and The Best of the Best of the Fest (8-10pm).

Saturday, 9/3

Saturday Morning Cartoons* (12-1pm), Crumbsnatchers (1-2pm), Wholly Quests (2-3pm), Role Models (3:30-4:30pm), Comedy Gold! (4:30-5:30pm), End of the Affair (5:30-6:30pm), Mating Rituals (7-8pm), Lady-Like** (8-9pm) and The Best Sex Ever!** (9-10pm).

*These are family friendly.
** These are not.


Sunday, 9/4

To the Extreme! (12-1pm), Gimme Shelter! (1-2pm), War Torn (2-3pm), Tainted Love (3:30-4:30pm), Undertow (4:30-5:30pm), Freak Your Melon! (5:30-6:30pm), Mother's Daze (7-8pm) and Curator's Classics (8-10pm).

Monday, 9/5

Homecoming (12-1pm), Pregnant Pause (1-2pm), Dearly Departed (2:30-3:30pm), The 1 Reel Challenge: Are You F**king Kidding Me!?! (3:30-5pm) and The Best of the Fest w/The Short Awards Ceremony (5:30-8pm).

For more information, see www.bumbershoot.org. For more on Etheridge, check out his site at www.thewarrenreport.com.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Kaspar's Kouch Film Festival

Years ago a woman I knew, who lived in a hotel her family owned, was notified that a piece of hers was going to be shown at a film festival she had never heard of. It turned out to be a small, student-run event at a college. Upon discovering this information, she figured she could run her own festival and do it right at the hotel. She was going to call it the Schmegegge Film Festival.

The Schmegegge Film Festival never happened, but Dustin Kaspar has just completed the 1st Kaspar's Kouch Film Festival, held in the living-room of his Lake City apartment. Over a series of six nights he showed eighteen films, mostly DVDs from his personal collection. True, most of the films are easily available from Blockbuster or Scarecrow, but they were accompanied by an assortment of snacks, a pasta dinner, a frosty mug of beer and homemade ice cream. Oh, and the air conditioning was neither too high nor too low. Needless to say, you won't find these amenities at the Harvard Exit or the Egyptian.

However, in true festival fashion, Kaspar's Kouch featured a program, a poster, a t-shirt and, most importantly, an opening night event at 911 Media Arts Center that featured screenings of locally made films by Wes Kim, Thom Harp and 33 Fainting Spells.

Kaspar, a choral music educator and tenor vocalist [who can be currently heard performing in the chorus of Gotterdammerung at The Seattle Opera], initially conceived of the festival as a way to gather friends from out of town to see films at his place, but quickly decided to take the idea public. A friend suggested he have an opening night party and Kaspar began selecting the films by going through the Spawned in Seattle section of this year's SIFF program and contacting the filmmakers directly.

On the night I attended the films were the 1949 Gun Crazy, The Taking of Pelham 123 and Battle Royale. True to the name of the festival there was a couch, indeed, a matching pair in black velveteen. The attendees were Kaspar, Kaspar's sister, her boyfriend Dan, who designed the festival logo, and other assorted friends and guests of the festival director. The film introductions were brisk, the popcorn was fresh and the featured ice cream flavor was avocado, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Kaspar has ordered a video projection system and plans on holding non-festival screenings throughout the year. It may be some time before he gives Cinema Seattle any serious competition, but I look forward to attending the 2nd Annual KKF.

Kaspar's Kouch Film Festival

Years ago a woman I knew, who lived in a hotel her family owned, was notified that a piece of hers was going to be shown at a film festival she had never heard of. It turned out to be a small, student-run event at a college. Upon discovering this information, she figured she could run her own festival and do it right at the hotel. She was going to call it the Schmegegge Film Festival.

The Schmegegge Film Festival never happened, but Dustin Kaspar has just completed the 1st Kaspar's Kouch Film Festival, held in the living-room of his Lake City apartment. Over a series of six nights he showed eighteen films, mostly DVDs from his personal collection. True, most of the films are easily available from Blockbuster or Scarecrow, but they were accompanied by an assortment of snacks, a pasta dinner, a frosty mug of beer and homemade ice cream. Oh, and the air conditioning was neither too high nor too low. Needless to say, you won't find these amenities at the Harvard Exit or the Egyptian.

However, in true festival fashion, Kaspar's Kouch featured a program, a poster, a t-shirt and, most importantly, an opening night event at 911 Media Arts Center that featured screenings of locally made films by Wes Kim, Thom Harp and 33 Fainting Spells.

Kaspar, a choral music educator and tenor vocalist [who can be currently heard performing in the chorus of Gotterdammerung at The Seattle Opera], initially conceived of the festival as a way to gather friends from out of town to see films at his place, but quickly decided to take the idea public. A friend suggested he have an opening night party and Kaspar began selecting the films by going through the Spawned in Seattle section of this year's SIFF program and contacting the filmmakers directly.

On the night I attended the films were the 1949 Gun Crazy, The Taking of Pelham 123 and Battle Royale. True to the name of the festival there was a couch, indeed, a matching pair in black velveteen. The attendees were Kaspar, Kaspar's sister, her boyfriend Dan, who designed the festival logo, and other assorted friends and guests of the festival director. The film introductions were brisk, the popcorn was fresh and the featured ice cream flavor was avocado, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Kaspar has ordered a video projection system and plans on holding non-festival screenings throughout the year. It may be some time before he gives Cinema Seattle any serious competition, but I look forward to attending the 2nd Annual KKF.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Bio

I began reading SIFFBLOG during this past SIFF. I attended 33 films, a few of them with Kathy Fennessy and Gillian Gaar, who mentioned me several times in her reviews. After some reflection, I figured, if my name was going to appear on the site, I might as well be writing for it. And so, here I am.

The first film I can remember seeing was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The first film I can remember being impressed with was 2001, which I saw in 1969 at the Park Lane Theater in Palisades Park, NJ (a town also known for its famous amusement park). Both the theater and the amusement park have long since vanished.

The first film I made was a Super 8 piece documenting my Christmas dinner in 1973. A copy exists on VHS, but is not available for screening.

The last film I made was 3.5 minute short with the wicked and beautiful Dame Darcy. Julianne Shepherd called it a 'small gem of a movie.' It's the only review I have ever gotten.

In between, I attended high school with Brooke Shields, studied art history at Columbia and studied film production, screenwriting and film criticism at UT Austin, during which time I also worked on quite possibly the very first Renee Zellweger film.

The last critical writing I did, that was published, was a handful of CD reviews for Ear magazine. This was during the prior Bush administration. Hopefully, my critical faculties have improved since then, though I quite liked all 5 Cremaster pictures so, who knows? In any case, my goal here is to write my honest opinion without a shred of earnestness and, in the process, hopefully not engender any fistfights or spillage of blood, though I'm willing to fence anyone for points [I once beat the NJ varsity left-handed foil champion].

More Nyback info

Faithful correspondant Alice Dee passes along the Grand Illusion's email-only schedule for the second week of the Nyback series:

Cinema Patrons,
This week is Week Two of our special visit from the illustrious Dennis Nyback and his collection of rare and forgotten cinema. Prepare yourself*=*for DENNIS NYBACK'S SILENT & SOUND SLAPSTICK FESTIVAL!

FRIDAY AUGUST 5th

TOUGH BABES OF THE SILENT FILM
Shows at 7pm

WACKY WOMEN IN 1930's COMEDY
Shows at 9pm

Two sets of short features that showcase the forgotten ladies of early film comedy!

SATURDAY AUGUST 6th

OUR GANG WAS GREAT!
A lovely set of Little Rascals shorts
Shows at 3pm & 5pm

FUNNY FUNNY FORGOTTEN MEN
See some incredibly rare slapstick shorts from stars you've never heard of!
Shows at 7pm

SILENT STARS KNOCKABOUT IN SOUND SHORTS
A whole lotta silliness in an easy-to-digest format
Shows at 9pm

SUNDAY AUGUST 7th

THREE STOOGES FUN!
The laws of physics and biology are suspended for our favorite goofballs
Shows at 3pm & 5pm

BUSTER AT HIS BEST
More mayhem from the Great Stone Face
Shows at 7pm

FUNNY FUNNY FATTY
Come discover the comic genius of Fatty Arbuckle
Shows at 9pm

MONDAY AUGUST 8th

FUNNY FILMS AT ORPHAN STUDIOS
A wonderful series of slapstick shorts from production studios that never made it into the modern era
Shows at 7pm

MACK SENNETT: THE KING OF SLAPSTICK
Sennett was the uncrowned king of slapstick, producing and directing with all the greats. Come down and see some of his greatest bits!
Shows at 9pm


TUESDAY AUGUST 9th

HAL ROACH: PRINCE OF SLAPSTICK
The man behind the Little Rascals had a long career in slapstick, and we feature 88 minutes of his best
Shows at 7pm

THE GREAT CHAPLIN
A series of shorts Chaplin filmed for Mutual Pictures
Shows at 9pm


WEDNESDAY AUGUST 10th

THE STRONG MAN
A hilarious feature starring Harry Langdon and directed by Frank Capra!
Shows at 7pm

WHEN EDUCATIONAL FILMS MEANT SLAPSTICK
A slapstick film factory with a great misleading name, Educational Films
produced some of the best short films of the 1930's with such stars as Shirley Temple and Bing Crosby
Shows at 9pm

THURSDAY AUGUST 11th

LAUREL & HARDY!
Four short films with our favorite screen couple
Shows at 7pm

HAROLD LLOYD in GRANDMA'S BOY
Lloyd stars as a cowardly youngster who discovers an unlikely source of
courage
Shows at 9pm

Our website currently doesn't have a schedule on it! Call the theater if you really want to double check showtimes; but I promise that I got the times right here! If you become a member of the Grand Illusion, you can receive a calendar in the mail every month! And we'd love you that much more!

Thanks,
The Grand Illusion Cinema
1403 NE 50th ST
Seattle, WA
98105

(206)523.3935
www.grandillusioncinema.org